Schizophrenia: Media vs. Reality

Although I have never had a real-life interaction with a person who has schizophrenia, I have been made aware of many of the symptoms schizophrenia due to the special education course I am enrolled in this semester. Just recently in that special education course, we watched a video of a young girl diagnosed with schizophrenia. Even though most cases of schizophrenia appear later on in life, this little girl was experiencing voices in her head, some good and some bad, that would not only guide her actions, but would prevent her from sleeping at night. Many times the voices in the girl’s head would cause her to be violent. The little girl’s actions became so violent that the parents were forced to buy two separate apartments: one for the little brother to live with the mother in, and one for the little girl to live in with her father.

Even though the video I watched on the girl with schizophrenia did portray many of the negatives of her mental illness, it was nowhere near the negative portrayal of schizophrenia in the media of today. In many movies, schizophrenia is depicted as a “crazy” person that rocks back and forth in the corner of a room in tattered clothing, or goes on a psychotic killing spree because the voices in their head are tell them that “everyone needs to go.” Although people with schizophrenia do commonly hear voices in their heads, often times telling them negative things, this does not mean that they should be treated as psychotic killers or mindless lunatics.

In fact, after experiencing the video that simulates some experiences that schizophrenia produces, I am not surprised that violence can sometimes result from these experiences. While I did know that the voices are often demeaning towards the person who has them in his or her head, I did not fully understand the extent to which this concept could go. It is one thing to imagine voices and people in your head that are speaking to you, but it is another whole ordeal to take real-life people and things and completely shift what they are saying to you. For example, what shocked me the most during the video was not the voices in the person’s head warning of poison and the weather; the thing that shocked me the most was the change in the headlines of the newspaper and the change in dialogue of the weather man and the news reporter. These were concrete things happening in real life, and for the person to not only fail to see these things for what they were, but to then fabricate messages and words over them was a real eye-opener for me. If that video alone caused me as much anxiety as it did, I could never begin to fathom the amount of anxiety really having schizophrenia could produce.

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2 thoughts on “Schizophrenia: Media vs. Reality”

  1. I know exactly which family you are talking about from a TLC special about Jani and her brother who both were diagnosed. I agree that it’s so strange that concrete things happening can change. This video was very eye opening to what people diagnosed with schizophrenia go through on a daily basis. It’s hard for me to rationalize what it’s really like for them because I can imagine hallucinating or hearing voices. It’d be super interesting to discover how doctors actually diagnose schizophrenia because there are so many different experiences that we cannot see or hear ourselves. I have seen Donnie Darko and I think that it’s a pretty good representation of how disturbing and harmful schizophrenia is and how it can drive people to do dangerous things. I also agree with you that I didn’t realize how intense and demeaning the thoughts really are or how far they could go.

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  2. I agree 100%, the news portrays you as crazy if you have schizophrenia. People juts think of them as killers like you mention and are treated different in todays society. Many people who have schizophrenia can live a normal life but are fighting with themselves on what is real and not real. It is very interesting to look at something and seeing something different, yet very scary. I also couldn’t even imagine dealing with what they see and think. If you want to learn more about schizophrenia I would recommend watching “A Beautiful Mind” because it shows you what they see and feel and go through.

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